FANTASIES, FABLES AND TRADITIONS
Apologetics, Eschatology, Exegesis & Hermeneutics
Now me, I don't know what they're talking about, or even what book they're talking about. They call it the Bible, and they quote from the Bible all right - but I sure don't read the Bible like they do.
But I have to keep in mind that they've been educated, poor souls. Instead of criticizing them, I should be pitying them. When I think of all the junk they pour into the heads of the poor scholars (especially these days with the World View even taught in Christian halls of learning) I get the willies. I should just be thankful that I is one of the unedjicated ones is all.
It used to be that parents could counter such an argument with; "If everybody was jumping off a cliff, would you?"
Now the kids would say "yes," and bring out their bungee cord.
Everybody's doing it is the reason most people do what they do. In the '40's and '50's the concept started with the popularizing of commercialism. It was called; "keeping up with the Jones'es."
It didn't start then, I'm sure. I have no doubt that Adam was checking out Eve's fig leaves to see if he could do her one better.
No one likes to be left out in the cold, unless being out in the cold is your "thing," or the "thing," of what ever group you hang out with, like the Polar Bear Society.
I doubt kids have to whine very much any more to get what they want. I think parents give in before the kids even have a chance to beg, and that is why we see so many kids with more rings hanging from their body than a jewelry shop, and tattoos in places that parents aren't even supposed to look. So I wonder who's looking?
Do you agree? Of course you would. Even if the subject in question concerns the moon being made of green cheese.
You may very well disagree in your heart, but the chances are very strong that your mouth is being agreeable.
We don't like to be looked down on, even by fools. This is one of the tools the Elders used to try and shut up Jesus and the Apostles. When it didn't work, they used threats of violence (which they carried out).
Again the subject may be green cheese, but the accusation is the same. Learning what is "Right" is not what people want. It's being called right that we desire. Being right requires listening. Being called right requires having the biggest club and doing the most brow beating.
In the past, being called a homosexual was the last thing a person wanted, even if they were homosexual. Now, what you are is of little consequence, it's being against anything, even murder, that is the unforgivable sin.
Another accusation thrown at disagreers is "prejudiced," or "Intolerant."
Toss any of these words into a conversation and you are sure to have everyone agree with you. It's the rule of the day.
Incidently, what I have said is not an indictment for or against Intolerance, Prejudice, or Homosexuality. My purpose is to expose our ability to be manipulated by words.
Here's someone who is not interested in Truth in any form. He accepts whatever he is told is true. Chances are he is very well educated and used to only accepting what his teachers say is true.
I suspect that most of the world is this way. It's much easier to find someone with answers (right or wrong) and follow them than it is to research these things out for ourself.
It's not only in church that we do this, but in life in general.
Of course we learn this first of all from our parents, who we either must obey, or rebel against. Then we learn it from school, where we either pass or fail accordingly. Then from the Military, and our job, for obvious reasons.
The only times we might state a contradictory opinion is with our wife or our kids, and maybe to our neighbor. But, as demonstrated above regarding tattoos and rings, it is likely your opinion, if expressed, will be ignored.
"Oh, if Joe says so, than it must be so."
Let us say that you are not one who just believes what you are told, but has confidence in your belief. Let's say that in your research you have found someone you fundamentally agree with, and now rely heavily on their opinion.
This is easy to do. And for a long time I did just that. After all, the person we are depending on has (we suppose) a great deal of time and experience and resources that we do not have. It's the same reason we do not perform open heart surgery on ourself. (Well, there are other reasons too, I suppose, but you get my drift.)
A problem arises when we follow a particular person's view. The Jim Jones incident is one extreme example, but a more subtle one lies in the heart of the one who has been deemed an expert.
"Um, well a, it's like this ......"
When Moses was forty days on Mt. Sinai talking to God, the people became restless and wanted a leader. Who was more qualified than the Head Priest to be that leader?
Aaron was enlisted by the people as the "expert" on God, and was supposedly the one who had connections with God.
But the people who voted Aaron in as head honcho did not want him to do any thinking, they wanted him to confirm that what they wanted to do was ok.
Prophets have been in this situation often, and lost their heads when they told a king what God said instead of what the king wanted to hear.
The people wanted a golden calf, so rather than look bad in the eyes of his adoring public, Aaron built them a calf.
"What did they do to you, Aaron," Moses asked.
They gave him authority. And someone who has been given authority without responsibility finds it very hard to form the words; "I don't know."
Big words sound intelligent. The bigger the words, and the more we use them, the more it intimidates those we speak to. It's a good way to get people to agree with you, because they don't know what you're talking about.
The Catholic church used this for centuries. Latin sounds religious; like the King James English sounds Biblical. That's why anyone who wants to write something, or interpret something, uses the KJ English to do so. Who can question it? It sounds so godlike.
When my ego was at its highest, and my knowledge at its lowest, I wrote poetry and prose. It wasn't too bad, but it served no better purpose than to satisfy my pride.
My interest was not to edify others who might read what I wrote (though I thought everyone should read it); my purpose was to show everyone how smart I was, how intellectually superior I had become.
I made heavy use of the dictionary, not to make sure I was using the correct word, or to insure I had spelled a word correctly. No, my need was to make sure I was using the biggest, most highfaluting word possible.
Would that I could say I was the only one who has ever done this.
"You should'a seen the one that got away. It was this big!"
At Bible Conventions there's always a large number of Commentators, Theologians and Pastors on the docket to speak. One Speaker will get up and give his lecture, then another, and so on.
As with any other activity, each speaker desires to outshine the ones who have gone on before.
There are several ways to accomplish this. The easiest, of course, is to have the best reputation. The better your reputation, the less you have to say and everyone will hang on your every word.
Like a famous baseball player from bygone days, he does not have to speak long, or play hard in order to win public appeal; all he has to do is wave at his fans and he gets a standing ovation.
But that reputation does not come by birth. It had to be won. And to win it, many opponent's back have been left with his footprints.
In sports, and most other endeavors, there is little consequence for cheating or mangling the rules.
But when it comes to the Word of God, the consequences can be extreme - for the mangler, and for those who take stock in his words.
It is said (I do not have evidence, so therefore can only further spread gossip) that Darwin recanted his theory of Evolution and wanted it withdrawn. But like the big businesses that have built their reputation and their wealth on lies, those who were benefitting from the falsehood would not hear of it and tried to shut him up
Whether this is true or not, the point that the story illustrates is valid, and all too common.
Jesus fell under the same condemnation. Truth was not the issue. Money and Respect was.
The second way a speaker can try for one-upmanship is to be the better speaker. Few fit that bill. So those who do not have the skill, or a reputation try to stir their audience into excitement.
Many, if not most of those who attend these conventions (including the speakers) are looking for something new. Preachers and Commentators and Theologians need new and interesting material to present to their listeners. How many people would put up with listening to the same thing over and over? Especially these days with all forms of media and entertainment competing for our attention.
The Bible is not new; nor can it be changed in order to suit our desire for entertainment. However, it can be described and explained in new and different ways. And we would think this is what the great minds would strive for.
But they, as well as we, have "Itching Ears" anxious to hear something new, exciting and unique.
We want something that can compete with Disney and Science Fiction. We want something we can tell others, or at least believe ourself special for the knowing of it.
Like telling the best joke, or cooking the best cake, or even having the worst illness to talk about.
We have a wild streak, a competitive and selfish nature.
And Preachers, Commentators and Theologians have to work hard to satisfy this part of us.
Yet they must "stay in the Book."
That is a very hard thing to ask of anyone. So since the Words cannot be changed, for they are set in stone; these men of the Book must read between the lines, add a little and take a little, and connect dots that have no possible connection with one another.
And we eat it up.
Most of these stories fall to the wayside. Other stories are held as Heretical truths which occasionally have cults built around them. Several others make their way into the Mainstream Denominations and become Possibilities or maybe even Legends. And a few tell us what we want to hear, though contrary to the Bible so, unfortunately, even make it to the books as Doctrines.
Living around sheep does not make you a sheep.
Living around sheep can make you look like a sheep. It can make you smell like a sheep. It can even make you act like a sheep. But being a true sheep requires a changing of the heart.
Judas spent three and a half years with sheep - walking and talking and learning the ways of the sheep. And though all the others had become sheep, Judas had not.
Living with sheep, and being required to act like sheep, can, in fact, make one rebel and turn into a wolf.
One who comes to mind, though of the secular world, is Rick Nelson. He lived the life of a son in the most upstanding family of his time (at least in the public's eye), and gained his reputation accordingly. Yet, when his life became his own, he turned his back on his family, his public, and his image to be the person he apparently had been all along.
When we show our true colors, we expect everyone to just go on accepting us as if we were still the same.
Rick wrote and sang a song about just such a situation. He called it "Garden Party." In the song he expressed his hurt that his fans left him when he changed his image and genre. He did not seem to realize that they had not left him, but that he had in fact turned his back on them.
Young lovers who put their best foot forward, then once married they show themselves for who they truly are.
Highly respected Morality preachers who condemn others for their immorality, only to be uncovered as worse than those they have condemned.
Policemen and judges who come down hard on the public, then beg for mercy when they are caught doing the same thing.
Very few of us are what we purport to be, or even know who we really are. But honesty is what Jesus requires of us, and He wants us to turn ourselves over to Him so He can make it so.
Ministers and Theologians are just fallible mortals. In my mind, some just a bit more fallible, and a bit too clever for their, and our, good.
Some Traditions are untouchable. Their Sanctity may exist only in a single gathering, or it may be spread throughout the world and been entrenched for thousands of years.
But they are still Traditions.
Jesus, of course, had to deal with just such Traditions. And so do we.
In more "modern" times we have an example of this in the Catholic church.
The Pope, being "Infallible" (or at least having moments of infallibility) can add to the Bible what he wants to add, without touching the Bible itself. He reinterprets the meaning of a Scripture without necessarily changing the wording of it.
"That's terrible," you might say. "That's not what God wants us to do!"
On the surface that would appear correct. A possible problem with this thinking is that maybe the first meaning was wrong. But then, what does that say for "Infallibility"?
The Catholic church is not the only one to alter the meaning of Scripture by covering it with Tradition (called Doctrine, or Articles of Faith which is the same thing). Cults are notorious for changing their scriptures, and even the Bible itself by merely reinterpreting the Bible.
But that in itself is not particularly wrong, if it were, then anything beyond the first interpretation would all be wrong. (Whatever that translation might be, since most all translations have been interpreted from bits and pieces of other translations, scraps and letters).
And even if we, every one of us, had the Bible in hand, exactly as God intended it to be; and every commentator commentated precisely what the Bible said, it would do us no good.
Oral Traditions are those which are not written down, but are relayed verbally from one generation to another.
Many cultures have based their history and philosophies on just such a method.
In fact, it is considered that the Bible was transferred this way before a written language was established.
I wonder what kind of Bible Noah had with him on the ark?
We hear very little of what we are told.
And we remember far less.
And that which we remember, we reinterpret to suit our self, and our own selfish desires.
"No! You can't take the car because you don't do your homework, you don't listen to me, and you don't do your chores; you don't even take out the trash. And that's final!"
"I asked Mom, and she said I can have the car after I take out the trash."
Consider Aaron and the golden calf.
Or me with my poetry.
These are the "Fundamentals." They are usually listed as Articles of Faith; "This is what we believe."
They are usually not seen as Traditions, but rather as firm Words of God.
But even the Absolute Words of God can be disputed, and often are, usually by those who wish to banish them.
God wrote His Word in such a way that they can be interpreted any way we want to do so. He did this in order to give us "enough rope with which to hang our self" as the expression goes. God wants only those who diligently seek to follow and obey Him; not those who feel they have to obey or else be punished, as He did with the Jews.
In order to have an organization, even an organization that calls itself "Anti-organizational," one must have rules by which to govern, and some agreement as to the reason for which the organization is formed.
Even a relaxing picnic has to be organized and have a common goal if it is to be successful.
Fundamentals are fine, if one keeps in mind that even cults have their Fundamentals.
Fundamentals create a bond that holds members together. But it can also be a chain with which to lock a person to an anchor that is about to be cast into the sea.
Most Traditions mean little to anyone, even to those who believe them. This, of course, is not true of everyone. Consider the Pharisees if you will. They took their Traditions so seriously that they were willing to kill to preserve them.
Another time Traditions are a problem is when they get in the way of, and hide the Truth. This was Jesus' complaint to the Pharisees; they covered the Word of God with their Traditions.
There are times in the Secular world that Traditions can create problems. However, there is little to nothing we can do about them. One example is the Tradition of Politicians not telling the truth. By the time the truth comes out, the damage has already been done.
The Medical field is another arena where Traditions can be the difference between life and death. Consider the times that a specific Wonder Drug has been announced, or where a certain product has been approved - only to discover years later that anyone who followed the Medical Profession's advice would be in great danger.
Then there's the Traditions being taught in the schools now. These Traditions would be laughable, had they not such tragic consequences.
However, only those who look to be deceived, will be deceived.
In the same way that a con man can only con someone who is looking to get something for nothing; Traditions can only deceive those who seek quick information without having to research for themselves.
God wrote His Gospels in three places. Yet we, being lazy and self-centered, look to others to "read" them for us.
The first of these is the Heavens. But instead of seeking God's message to us, we look to astrologers and witches who "peep and mutter" to find out what they have to say.
The second Gospel is God's Word, the Bible. It is written in two ways. It is written with pen and ink; and more importantly, it is written in the life of Jesus who has lived out the Gospels, illustrating what the Words mean.
And lastly, the Gospels have been written on the flesh of our hearts, where those who allow God to break up the stones, and turn our heart into a fertile field, will have the Seed of Life, that is the Holy Spirit, planted.
The Holy Spirit is the Interpreter of the Word for us, and instructs us of the Way to Christ and Eternal Life.
When we have all three Gospels in alignment, and the Holy Spirit guiding us - we then will understand the Gospels, and will have no need to seek the interpretations and traditions of others.
4And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. 5But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. (Mat 26:)
6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mat 15:)
23And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (Acts 9):)
13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2Thes 2:)
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